A preliminary investigation of excessive reassurance-seeking and attachment-related behaviours in adolescents with OCD
Walters SL., Salkovskis PM., Halldorsson B., Elgie S.
Objective: Excessive Reassurance-Seeking is highly prevalent and problematic in OCD but little is understood regarding the onset and progression, particularly within adolescent populations. The current study aimed to contribute to the small but emerging evidence investigating the prevalence and specificity of ERS in adolescents with OCD as well as to complete a preliminary investigation into specific attachment-related behaviours that may be instrumental in understanding the transition from typical to excessive reassurance-seeking behaviours. Method: 57 adolescents, aged 11-17 (66% female), and caregivers were recruited to the OCD (n=19), other anxiety disorders (n=19) or healthy controls (HC; n=19) group. Participants completed questionnaire-based OCD-related cognitions and behaviours and an observation-based measure of attachment-related behaviour. Results: ERS, and inflated responsibility, were elevated among clinical groups compared to HCs but there was little evidence of specificity between OCD and anxiety disorders. There was a non-significant difference in role-confused attachment behaviour but marginally more parents and adolescents in the OCD group displayed a moderate level. Conclusions: ERS and inflated responsibility appears to be less specific to OCD in adolescents than is observed in adults. Role-confusion in parent-adolescent relationships may act as a vulnerability factor for the onset of core features of OCD and warrants further investigation.